Monday, September 19, 2016

RIP Charmian Carr

So sad to hear this news. Charmian Carr, who played Liesl in The Sound of Music, has passed away at the age of 73. Below is the story of my brush with her. It's one of my favorite moments from radio career.

When I was growing up, the Sound of Music was a very important film in our house. My father came from Austria and he forced us to watch it so many times that we knew the film by heart. After he died, The Sound of Music reminded us of Dad even more.

I made the mistake of telling John Landecker about this, and he thought it was hilarious that a 30-something straight male loved that movie. He brought me along to an interview with Julie Andrews to embarrass me. He thought I was in love with her--but I confessed after the interview that I was actually in love with the girl who played Liesl, Charmian Carr.

As it turns out, telling that to John was an even bigger mistake.

I figured the odds of running into her were minimal, but wouldn't you know it, she came to Chicago just a few years later to promote a sing-a-long version of "The Sound of Music." When John heard she was coming, he insisted that I book her to appear on the show.

I did. But I knew I was in for it.

He wouldn't tell me what was going on in the days before the interview, but I heard a lot of whispering between John and the other members of the show. Whenever I walked into the room, they shut up. Or they laughed. I was bracing for the worst.

On the morning of the interview, I was unbelievably nervous. John had even been warning the audience about my childhood love of Liesl, and that something truly memorable was about to occur.

She arrived at the studio about fifteen minutes early, so I met her at the door and brought her to the green room. I must say, she was still quite beautiful. I know she's easily fifteen years older than me, and I know how ridiculous this sounds, but I couldn't even bring myself to shake her hand. I had sweaty palms.

I tried to warn her that something was going to happen. I told her that John had been teasing me about my love of the movie, and described our Julie Andrews experience to her. She seemed amused by it all, but I must admit...I had a difficult time maintaining eye contact.

Take a look at those eyes.

When I brought her into the studio, John was nearly bouncing off his seat with excitement. Within seconds, he was handing each of us a script, and explaining to the audience what was about to occur.

He had transcribed the love scene between Liesl and Rolf, and wanted to know if Charmian would recreate that scene live on the air, with me playing the part of Rolf. I don't think I've ever been more embarrassed in my life.

She was obviously a little taken aback by this, but after looking at me, shrugged her shoulders and said "Sure, what the heck."

John cued the music, and boom, we were acting out the scene. I was sitting five feet away from the real Liesl, and she was calling me "Rolf" with love in her voice. I stammered through my first line, which sent John into convulsions, and onto the floor, but it didn't stop Charmian. She was such a good sport about it.

We did the entire scene. For those two or three minutes, she was sixteen going on seventeen, and I was the blond-haired Austrian teenager she was in love with.

Can I confess it now?

It was probably one of my all-time favorite moments in my radio career because it was such a unique and personal experience.

Don't tell that to John, though. It would ruin the moment for him.

How many people have both of these autographs on their "Sound of Music" soundtrack?